This guest post is provided by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), the organization that manages the .CA domain name registry in Canada. CIRA helps small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups get their businesses online.

Choosing a great domain name is an essential part of your business' online strategy. Sometimes referred to as a “website address” or “URL”, your domain name is the place where your website lives online.

A great domain name not only helps you protect your brand online, but it gives your business credibility and makes you look professional from the start. Furthermore, it will help you stand out from the crowd and can attract new visitors (and customers!) to your website.

When choosing your domain name, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Include brand and keywords
If you haven't named your business yet, check to see the availability of your domain name. The best choice for your domain name is your business name. But if your business name is already taken, you should consider adding keywords to your domain name, like your services, industry or location. Just make sure your domain name isn't too long.

2. Keep it memorable and simple
Choose a memorable domain name and people will never have an issue finding your website. Try to avoid dashes and numbers, as these can confuse people when you tell them your web address. If you must have numbers in your domain name, register both the “2” and “two” versions. Also, try to keep your domain name short — this will make it easier for people to remember and type into a browser.

3. Consider alternate spellings and common typos
To avoid losing traffic and to fully protect your brand online, consider registering all variations and possible misspellings of the domain name.

4. Choose the right top-level domain
A domain name is comprised of two pieces: the top-level domain (everything to the right of the dot, like .CA, .com and .org) and the second-level domain (everything to the left of the dot, like your business name).

If you're a Canadian business selling to Canadian customers, the .CA domain name extension is the right choice. The .CA instantly brands your website and business as Canadian and can help you attract more visitors in a Canadian search. In fact, research shows that Canadians prefer using and shopping on Canadian websites. If you're considering a different extension, like .com, registering the .CA version as well will help protect your brand.

Registering a domain name is an important step in building and growing your business' brand online. Get started today by searching to see if your .CA domain name is available.